Interview to Alicia Morote Oliver, COO at team Queso

By Almudena Berzosa – Head of Psychology & People Development at Swiss Esports Federation

Team Queso is a Spanish esports organisation that dominates the mobile competitive scene and has created thousands of fans around the world, transcending borders and competing globally.

Founded by Álvaro ‘Alvaro845’ González and Alicia ‘Alimorol’ Morote in February 2017, Team Queso focused at first on mobile games. The club began with Vainglory and Clash Royale and soon expanded into Arena of Valor and Hearthstone.

In June 2018, in a rather brave move, Team Queso broke with its motto and decided to expand into PC games with the acquisition of a Fortnite competitive squad. The growth of the club was noticeable and got sponsored by Telepizza, after considering esports to be a new market niche. Nowadays Team Queso has squads in Clash Royale, Arena of Valor, Fortnite, Counter-Strike, Smite, Rainbow Six, Brawl Stars and PUBG Mobile and the list is likely to keep growing.

I had the pleasure to talk with Alicia Morote Oliver, co-founder and COO of the organization and a role model for many young women that want to enter the esports.

She comes across as a likeable and genuine person, that is true to herself and not afraid of being ambitious. She doesn’t compromise her integrity and values, but don’t get it wrong, she is here to win.

Please tell us a little bit about yourself, what did you study/work before and how did you end up in a leadership position in esports?

It is somehow funny, I was supposed to be a Lawyer. I have a degree both in Law and Business Administration at Universidad Pontificia de Comillas, and my first jobs were all law-related. At a certain moment, I saw an opportunity in YouTube and videogames, so I finally ended up in the Team Queso foundation in 2017.

Can you give a quick description of your role as COO for Team Queso?

My role in Team Queso is to coordinate the different departments and to make sure that everyone is on the same page. This implies very different tasks, from taking strategic decisions to more routine things, as making sure players are aligned and know Team Queso’ values and philosophy. I could say that I am the one who knows Team Queso inside the best, so I am the most appropriate to know our weaknesses and strengths.

Could you walk us through what a normal day looks like for you?

Mails, mails, mails! Just kidding. I normally have a lot of calls/meetings a day, both internal and external, like marketing and communication team meetings, which happen almost daily. Also, I am in charge of sponsorships execution so I work very closely with both brands and agencies to detail all our sponsored activities and future plans.

What are your major achievements so far since founding Team Queso in February 2017? What makes you the most “Queso-proud”?

Of course, being able to win CRL Europe was one of the biggest dreams that we could have ever had. As well, having two sponsors such as Razer and Telepizza, which are leaders within their industry, makes me feel that we are on the right path, that we must be doing something good, so I am glad to be working with them. Lastly, I really think that we have created a true family, we have a strong brand with clear values that the audience knows, and that is something that amazes me, every single event or match that I see the people cheering us, I feel thrilled.

What are your longer term goals and ambitions?

To have Team Queso competing at highest European level in all its divisions without losing our essence and values.

Now, let’s get dirty, many people say that there is certainly a glass ceiling for women, especially in this industry, what’s your view on this? Is esports a man’s world? (Let’s take a moment here to laugh)

Currently, and this is not an opinion, esports IS a man’s world. But I truly believe this is starting to change. I am super inspired by lots of women that are at the backstage of the industry at many levels (Teams, Content Creation, League Organization, Games Development…) and I can’t wait to see them take a place in the front line. I don’t think there’s a glass ceiling, but it is obvious that although women represent more or less a 50% of the gamers, esports is an area yet to be explored by women. Hopefully, some of the girls that are already in the industry can mentor the new generations and inspire them, showing that we came here to stay and to make this industry bigger and better.

In your view, what will inspire more women to play esports, or to accept managerial roles in the industry?

As I said before, I find it essential to have examples, strong women with a clear leadership that encourage new generations to follow their steps. So maybe, we need to know more about those backstage women that are currently in the industry, and also, working on the spread of esports among the female players, who are not that much into the competitive scene.

What do you think of the rise of all-female esports teams? Do you think this is the right way to go?

I am not a fan of this all-female teams. I think they are a double-edged weapon, that can be used as a Marketing resource, as we recently saw with the Vaevictis case. This can’t stain the efforts and good work that some others are doing, as the Zombie Unicorns. However, I don’t think this is the most effective way, as it sends out the message that there are male and female teams, and that is not correct. Team Queso’s teams are all mixed teams although there happen to be no female players at this moment. I don’t see the good in having a low skilled amateur female team, instead of being inspired in the currently few high level female players that there are, and rising the voice against the harassment that they have to deal with.

What are the characteristics or skills in your view, anyone interested in this industry (men or women) should have?

Passion, passion and passion.  We must generate emotions, if someone doesn’t have them, he or she will not be able to do it.

Also, young people have to understand that in order to succeed in esports a big dose of effort and sacrifice will be required. They also have to learn to deal with failure and frustration, and focus on the long term goals.

Many parents are concerned with the fact that their kids play videogames, however, research says that there are plenty of skills that individuals may learn through an e-sports curriculum. What is your view here? You probably have to deal with a lot of parents…

I had the opportunity to watch how being part of an esports team affects very young people. They learn about effort, about success and failure, about teamwork, ambition… Most of them, when you explain how the day-to-day for a player is in an esports team, understand that this is an activity that can be as positive as playing in a football team, as being a boy scout… It is all about personal development and social skills. All excesses are not only bad, but also a shared responsibility of teams and coaches, and parents.

You guys have a fabulous gaming house in Madrid, right? Can you tell us about the life of a kid there? We guess there is not only playing there, right?

Not at all! We have a tight schedule where we ensure a minimum of 8h of sleep, time outside the computer every day, breaks during the day… Also, we have activities focused on team building, improving mindset to face high level competition, deal with stress… And also, we have a personal trainer that comes weekly to grant a certain amount of physical activity!

Do you have any words of encouragement for young people getting into esports with interest in developing a professional career? Maybe in a role similar to yours…

Look for role models. Ask yourself what are the best ones doing. Get informed, study… make a learning plan for yourself!

But the most important thing: don’t ever let anyone tell you that you can’t do something. Believe in yourself and follow your passion.